February 6, 2022 – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
A recording of a video version this virtual worship service will be available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z65Wm2Bxuc from 12:15 AM on February 6, 2022.
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Call to worship
One: Let us sing and pray in God’s presence.
All: Praise be to God!
One: For God has created the world and called it good.
All: Praise be to God!
One: In Christ, God has redeemed the world and defeated the powers of death.
All: Praise be to God!
One: The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, calling us to follow Jesus.
All: All praise and glory to God, Holy One and Holy Three!
Lighting of the Christ Candle
Prayers of Approach and Confession
God ever creating, ever loving, ever leading: your presence is peace when we are frantic; your Word is truth when we face deception; your Spirit offers freedom when we are paralyzed by fear. You give purpose in confusing times; You call for justice when the world settles for inequality. For all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be, we worship you as the Source of Life, the Promise of Redemption, and the Spirit of Love in Action, One God, now and always.
Merciful God, you call us to fullness of life but we confess our shortcomings. We have wandered from your ways and wasted your gifts; we have ignored your grace at work among us, and focused on loss and complaint. We have been suspicious of the motives of others, too quick to judge and too slow to forgive. Give us the courage to see clearly who and what we are. With your forgiveness, cleanse us from all our faults and failings, and inspire us to walk a new way. We pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Declaration of Pardon
Dear friends, The Christ is never far from us. We are offered forgiveness. It is ours if we choose to receive it. Risen Christ, Holy God, gracious Spirit, we bring our thanks to you. AMEN.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
“The Deep Water”
Today in the gospel of Luke, we hear the story of transformation, the transformation that Simon Peter, James, and John from Galilee experienced two centuries ago. Jesus Christ offers us the same transformation Peter and others experienced today. Their transformation began when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” (verse 4)
All of us know where this deep water is. The deep water symbolizes a place where we have experienced darkness, uncertainty, failure, struggle, hurt, and fear. The deep water also represents a particular place in our hearts and spirits that we have not explored enough.
So typical of Peter, he quickly responded to Jesus, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” At first, Peter and other fishers thought that this deep water which Jesus invited Peter to explore was a physical space, a geographic location, where they could not catch any fish. That is an excellent place to start our spiritual transformation. Going back to a place and an event where we could not understand what was happening… Going back to a place and a time where we faced our failures, questions, anger, and despair.
However, going to the deep water is only the beginning. When we open the door to the deep water, Christ invites us to put down our nets for a catch. Putting down our nets for a catch symbolizes wanting to find meaning, purpose, reason, and blessing. It is about allowing our experience of the deep water to deepen our awareness of God’s blessing, love, forgiveness, and abundance.
Christ does not invite us to the deep water to punish us or make us feel unworthy and small but empowers us to open our eyes and hearts.
“6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’”
We pay so much attention to so many fish they caught, and their nets ended up breaking. But we tend to pay less to Simon Peter, who fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” In this deep water, not only did they found so many fish, they also found something more precious than fish, the knowledge of who they were and who Christ was. What they found in their spirits and hearts was much more powerful and valuable than those fish they caught.
In fact, Peter, James, and John left everything behind, I mean everything. They left fish they just caught, their nets, boats, their family and friends… but they also left their regret, anger, questions, struggles and hurt behind… started a new journey with Jesus.
I cannot help but ask myself, “What did Peter, James, and John experience that day?” What was so powerful that they left their boats, nets, and even their life behind? The story we read today from the gospel of Luke is not how many fish Christ enabled Peter, James, and John to catch on the lake of Gennesaret in Galilee.
This story is about people accepting and experiencing God’s transforming forgiveness and grace in the deep water. This story is about people stepping over and going beyond their failures, fear, and disappointment by finding Jesus Christ in their life journey.
The gospel of Luke is not interested in telling what happened to those fish, at how much they were sold, who ate them, or who made a profit, but Simon and other fishers started to follow Jesus, leaving everything behind.
Christ is not asking us to go to the deep water with self-inflicting voices and our narrow understanding of why and what happened, but to go to the deep water with the loving eyes of Jesus Christ who understands and embraces our struggles and humanness.
Do we trust Jesus was always with us even when we were in the deep water? Do we trust Jesus is always with us even when we are in the deep water in this very moment? Then, may we do our part to discover Christ Jesus who was, is, and will be with us always. Not even the deep water can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ.
Musical reflection: “Le cygne” (“The Swan”), the thirteenth movement of The Carnival of the Animals (1886) by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921); this arrangement by Rachelle Risling. Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2022 Rachelle Risling, used by permission. Performed on the keyboard by GCPC music director Rachelle Risling.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
God of surprising generosity, Jesus encouraged his disciples to keep fishing when they thought their nets were empty. Encourage us to keep giving even when needs seem overwhelming and resources scarce. We entrust our gifts to you with the faith you can surprise us and others through all they can accomplish in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope, The Lord’s Prayer
God of grace and compassion, we bring before you the widening circles of our lives. We lift up those closest and dearest to us and name them before you with affection and gratitude: Thank you that your love reaches into the very depths of their needs and gives them strength for their journeys. Jesus, we are here for them and for you.
Spirit of healing and hope, we remember before you the many communities and individuals experiencing ongoing conflict and violence, widespread drought or severe flooding, crowded quarters in refugee compounds, a yearning for education and a struggle for freedom.
We join our prayers with those of desperate people everywhere, trusting in your gifts of courage and resilience to grapple with these steep challenges. In a world of so much abundance, inspire generosity and hope among those who give and those who receive. Jesus, we are here for them and for you, Holy and loving God. We are in awe of your goodness. We know in our hearts the tug of our common humanity, as well as the boldness of your Spirit to respond to those who suffer and make a difference wherever we can.
We offer these prayers and the unspoken prayers of our hearts in the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
- “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-02-05 12:25 – Added link to video version of service on YouTube; added details of the musical reflection.